駄洒落 (だじゃれ) - Japanese Puns

Posted on November 28, 2016 | genkijacs

In general, dajare could be described as Japanese Puns. However, while English puns are usually created by exchanging a word in sentence with a similar one, dajare benefit from similar sounds within a sentence or different possible interpretations of a sentence.

Here are some examples:

→ イルカがいるか? ("iruka wa iruka?): Is there a dolphin?

→ アルミ缶(かん)の上(うえ)にあるミカン ("arumi kan no ue ni aru mikan"): a mikan on top of an aluminum can
This one could also interpreted as:
あるミカンの上にあるミカン ("aru mikan no ue ni aru mikan"): a mikan on top of another mikan

→ パン作った(つくった)ことある?("pan tsukutta koto aru?"): Have you ever made bread?
can be changed into:
パンツ食(く)ったことある? ("pantsu kutta koto aru?"): Have you ever eaten underwear?

Japanese puns can be hilarious. However, be careful using them as Japanese people might not always agree :)
By the way, the standard response to being told a really bad pun is 寒~い!("samuuui", that's cold).

A totally different sort of test

Posted on November 01, 2016 | genkijacs

When studying a foreign language, one of the most interesting parts is the one that can’t be taught in lessons: words and expressions that sound hilariously strange if translated directly.

How well do you know the Japanese language? Find out by trying to make sense of these terrible translations. Take out a piece of paper, write down whatever comes to your mind and then check your answers (given below).

1.) She is a Christmas cake. (hint: you cannot eat this poor girl.)
2.) Yesterday, I bought some horizontal rice.
3.) My mouth is lonely.
4.) Did you see that barcode man?
5.) This boy is a real parasite single.
6.) My hand is leaving my throat!
7.) That was great. My cheeks are falling off.

1.) クリスマスケーキ: This term describes a woman at the age of 25 that is not yet married.
2.) 横飯 (よこめし, yokomeshi): This is not some weird genetically modified rice. It is normal, western style food.
3.) 口寂しい(くちさびしい, kuchi sabishii): Hearing that one might actually get the impression that your body parts have developed emotions. Just imagine your nose or eyes talking to you talking about how depressing their day might have been. Of course, this is not what this means. Japanese people use the term “lonely mouth” when referring to eating without actually being hungry.
4.) バーコード人 (バーコドひと, "ba-ko-do hito"): This term is used for a balding man whose hair is combed over in a way that makes it look like a barcode. Were you already having nightmares about all the barcodes on your purchases taking over your apartment?
5.) パラサイトシンゲル: An adult living alone staying at their parents’ house. This term is self-explanatory … once you know what it means.
6.) 喉から手が出る (のどからてがでる, "nodo kara te ha deru"):However scary this might sound, it is actually just the expression for wanting something terribly bad.
7.) ほっぺたが落ちる(ほっぺたがおちる "hoppeta ga ochiru"): Don’t worry. Your conversation partner has not developed some kind of weird disease. He has only just eaten something extraordinary delicious.

The Japanese language is full of funny and interesting expressions. If you enjoyed our small test, just go ahead and do some research on your own. It is great fun.


Posted on February 10, 2015 | genkijacs

Alrighty! Here we go, your go-to expression for this week! Did you know Japanese also has wordplay? The Japanese love it and call it 言葉遊び (ことばあそび - "kotoba asobi").

Here are a few examples of Japanese words and phrases that, when said out loud, sound like English:

ハマチ : hamachi (Japanese meaning: Yellowtail sushi) – Sounds like: "How much?"
いつ相撲終わる? : itsu sumo owaru? (Japanese meaning: When does the Sumo end?) – Sounds like: "It’s a small world."
ほった芋いじんな : Hotta imo ijinna (Japanese meaning: Leave those potatoes alone) – Sounds like: "What time is it now?"

In Japanese, numbers' pronunciation can also sometimes be adapted to form words. Like...

37564 – みなごろし : Massacre (In this example, 3 - usually pronounced "san" - is pronounced "mi" (as it is in words such as 3日間 - "mikkakan" or "three days". 7 - "nana" - gets shortened to "na". And so on...)


18782 - いやなやつ : Unpleasant guy (above?) Time to use sneaky number codes around mean guys.


4649 - よろしく : Nice to meet you, please treat me well!

What kind of Japanese wordplay do you know? Little things make studying Japanese interesting and more fun, don’t you think?

Right in the eye!

Posted on January 28, 2015 | genkijacs

Another busy week at Genki Japanese and Culture School, and when it gets busy, we get wacky! So let us share some of the wacky Japanese wordplay we know.

目の中に入れても痛くないほどかわいい! ("め の なか に いれても いたくない ほど かわいい" - me no naka ni iretemo itakunai hodo kawaii - (lit.) "it's so cute, it wouldn't hurt even if I put it in my eye")

The above phrase...ouch. No kidding that putting objects directly in your eye would hurt. But what if that character, baby or animal you saw at the zoo was so cute...that you would be left speechless and put them in your eye to absorb all the cuteness? (That's something normal people do, right? Right?)

Supposedly, this expression can be matched with the phrase in English “Oh! It is so cute I could explode!” But with Japanese people, expressions would not be complete without a referral to the eyes. Personally, the eye is such a sensitive area – we think we would rather implode than being stuck in the eye with something like a baby. But when affections are all but won over, you have to wonder.

So instead of just saying かわいい ("kawaii!")! Perhaps next time you could say 目の中に入れても痛くないほどかわいい! Give it a try!

2014 流行語

Posted on November 26, 2014 | genkijacs

The nominations for 2014's 流行語 are in!

Here are a few of the phrases that are nominated for the top 流行語 of 2014, according to Yahoo! News Japan:


Check out the complete list for more!

Interesting Japanese: 午後夢中

Posted on April 29, 2014 | genkijacs

Everyone knows the feeling: you've just had lunch, and you're trying to get back into work/studying but you're just...so...tired...

Trust Japanese to have a word for that! That word is 午後夢中 (ごごむちゅう - "gogo muchuu"), lit. "to be in a trance/daze in the afternoon".
To be so tired in those first few hours post-lunch, it feels like you're in a daze or dream...
We've definitely been there!

Interesting Japanese - 暗黙のルール

Posted on February 27, 2014 | genkijacs

In relation to our previous post about the so-called "rules" of Valentine's Day/White Day, an interesting term came up when we did some research on the topic: "暗黙のルール" (あんもくのルール - "anmoku no ru-ru").

Many of you have probably heard of 暗黙の了解 (あんもくのりょうかい - "anmoku no ryoukai"), the unspoken/implicit agreements that allow fan-artists in the manga industry to create doujinshi and other fan works. This term applies to a lot of social interactions as well - for example, when you can't (or don't want to!) go to a party, you respond "ちょっと・・・" to the invitation, and it is implicitly understood that you're declining, even though you never directly said "no".

Along the same vein, 暗黙のルール are certain social "rules" that everyone somehow knows about, but no one actually ever teaches. These kind of "implicit rules" can be things that are considered so obvious there is no need to speak about them (like the fact that you're not supposed to blow your nose in public, or eat while walking on the sidewalk).

So with Valentine's Day/White Day, the "rules" are considered obvious, so no explanation is added along any of the candies/gifts on display at the shops.

Every culture and society has these kinds of rules, and they differ from country to country, but Japan does seem to have a lot of them! Can you think of any other interesting 暗黙のルール? Let us know via Twitter or Facebook!

Interesting Japanese - www

Posted on January 07, 2014 | genkijacs

If you exchange a lot of texts with Japanese people, you'll have noticed they tend to use "www" a lot in their conversations. "w" is Japanese language text-speak for "lol" (the "w" is short for 笑い - "warai" - to laugh), and "www" is called "草" (くさ - kusa) in Japanese . Generally, the more "w"'s there are, the funnier something is. One of the kanji used to write kusa is 艸 - which texters will often use in emoticons, since it looks like a pair of hands raised to cover someone's mouth as though laughing: (*´艸`*)

流行語 2013

Posted on December 27, 2013 | genkijacs

As 2013 winds to a close, we thought it would be fun to review some of the interesting phrases that were popular in Japan during the year. 流行語 (りゅうこうご - "ryuukougo": buzzword; popular phrase) are catchphrases and words made famous by TV ads, dramas and variety programs, which you will often see being used (or spoofed!) by other ads or shows.

Here are the top 5 ryuukougo for 2013:

5) アベノミクス
"Abenomics" is what the economic and monetary policies of Shinzo Abe, during his terms as prime minister of Japan, are being hailed as.

4) 倍返し (ばいがえし)
Made popular by the TBS drama "Hanzawa Naoki", this catch phrase has a similar meaning to the English phrase "you reap what you sow", but with more violence. In the show, Hanzawa vows to pay back the harm done by his enemies twice as badly.

3) じぇじぇじぇ
Made popular by the drama "Amachan", this term means "what?" in the Iwate dialect. It also serves as the base for a wordplay used in the name of the talent agency created by the lead character - "3j". Arguably also the only 流行語 that comes with its own emoticon... ( ‘ jjj ’ ) !!

2) お・も・て・な・し
This word has become the unofficial catchphrase of the Tokyo Olymics 2020. After being used in the presentation speech by Crystal Takigawa for the Olympics, it has since been popularised internationally to describe the unique hospitality of Japan and its people.

1) 今でしょ!(いまでしょ)
This term was first used by popular high school teacher Osamu Hayashi, who always used this phrase at the end of his lectures: "いつやるか?今でしょ!". The use of this phrase skyrocketed after it appeared in one of Toshin High School's popular TV commercials. Literally translated, it means "When are you going to do it? Now!", but on its own, 今でしょ has taken a meaning similar to "now's the right/only time [to do something]". You often hear it in commercials, in the context of "When are you going to buy this car?" "今でしょ!"


Interesting Japanese - 寝刻

Posted on December 17, 2013 | genkijacs

For those Japanese language students who just aren't morning people, and can never quite seem to make that 7AM wake-up to make it to morning classes on time, this is a word just for you. 寝刻 (ねこく - "nekoku") , combines the words 寝坊 (ねぼう - "nebou", to oversleep) and 遅刻 (ちこく - "chikoku", to be late), to make a new word meaning "to arrive late because you overslept".